Monica Awad

Palestinian children's right to quality education

In a very poor neighborhood in the old city, in a tall tiny shabby building, sounds of children’s laughter can be heard as we walked up the 50 steep steps leading to the main hall of the Children’s Center. More than 100 girls and boys of various age groups were gathered in the main hall, listening to Sana’, the facilitator of the activity, giving instructions of the day. Main hall was full of excitement, it was the third day out of the six-day activity planned by Tamer institute, a local non governmental organization, supported by UNICEF, aiming at improving quality of education through creative reading and writing. Loud foot steps of kids running to their respective training rooms were heard. 

Happy to be going back to school

For 12-year-old Sahl, riding a bicycle to school is a dream come true. Sahl lives in Aba’a which is a small picturesque village near Jenin. The vast majority of the 400 or so residents are kids below the age of 18. Ordinarily, the drive to Aba’a from Jenin would take less than five minutes. However, villagers avoiding the Israeli checkpoints have to travel more than 35 km. Poverty is pervasive in a community where most families depend on farming. Aba’a is surrounded by two small Israeli settlements – Jannim and Kaddim – among the hundreds that dot the West Bank. During the past years, the villagers at Aba’a have not had any problems with the nearby settlements. 

Reaching the un-reached

On a sunny Thursday morning, we headed towards Mneizel to immunize children against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) as part of the national immunization campaign. The drive from Jerusalem to Mneizel, a Bedouin area south of Hebron took more than expected. The drive that should normally take two hours, took almost four hours. It was not for the drive, but for the delayed access as a result of the Israeli manned checkpoint few kilometers before reaching Mneizel. As we drove in two cars, heading towards Menizel, we reached an Israeli manned checkpoint. As part of the security procedures, both cars were stopped. Unfortunately for the news crew, Dr. Iyad and Hanan were driving with them.